The path to hell is paved with good intentions. I certainly prefer a clean earth and our new house will include such energy savers as foam insulation, super efficient windows, solar water heaters and high efficiency HVAC units. But all this talk about global warming makes me a bit nervous because of the law of unintended consequences. Wanting to do something good often results in making matters worse. So far, things seem on track and nothing too wacky. I breathed a sigh of relief when Al Gore received his Oscar and the little pithy homily on energy savings ran behind him and Leo on the screen. Ok, lower your thermostat, buy energy efficient appliances, take shorter showers, and so on. Nothing about the police impounding your SUV or living in caves. Not yet, anyway. Note: the thing about shorter showers kind of begs the question. If you really want to save energy, don't take showers but there goes the law of unintended consequences.
We have already had a bit of an enviromental mess with the law of unintended consequences. A few years ago somebody came up with the idea of putting MTBEs in gasoline to make the air 'cleaner.' It may have made the air cleaner but it seeped into the water supply and may cause cancer. Not a good idea.
George Will found another example which shows the law is nothing new. Anybody remember the Dust Bowl? It was not a football game but a storm that ripped up parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and some other places. A huge environmental nightmare. If you want to read about it, check out Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
I always thought it was a freak of nature. It was not. It was man made. Here's the background--seems the Turks cut off the Russian shipping in World War I which stopped Russian wheat from reaching Europe. That made US wheat even more valuable and the US government furthered the madness by guaranteeing a price to farmers of $2 a bushel, more than twice the normal price. A wheat bubble ensued. After the war, the government took back the subsidy and the farmers upped capacity even more to make up the drop in prices which is opposite of what you should do--when demand drops, reduce supply. The farmers went the other direction and by the 1930s the farmers had added 5.2 million acres of new wheat fields to the previous 20 million acres, a pretty big increase.
So what? Here's what. The land is now plowed which means the grass holding down the dirt is no longer there. The dirt is exposed. A series of wind storms over a few years picked up the dirt starting in Texas and dumped it in Chicago and points east ending in New York and Washington where it blackened the skies and infiltrated the buildings leaving dust everywhere. It caused an illness termed 'dust pneumonia.' Millions of people picked up and relocated, unable to farm because there was no topsoil to grow crops.
Eventually it rained and the grasses grew back and the earth healed itself but the whole thing would have been avoided if somebody in Washington had refrained from 'doing good.'
Doing good is good but before you do something good try to determine if it could do something bad in the long run.